Technology that allows shoppers to scan and pay for items on their smartphone while they shop, and then walk out of the store without visiting a till is gaining popularity in the UK.
The Co-op is trialling the “shop, scan and go” service, which follows Amazon’s experiment with an automated convenience store in the US.
The pay-in-the-aisle technology, a joint venture with Mastercard, would appeal to time-pressed shoppers looking for a fast, “frictionless” buying experience where they did not have to queue at the till.
With the Co-op service, shoppers scan products with their phone as they walk around the store. When they have finished shopping, they can “check out” using their payment card details stored within the app, and then leave the store, with both the Co-op and the individual knowing they have paid.
The retailer said it was seeing a steep fall in the number of cash transactions in its stores as customers used alternative payment methods.
Some have appeared apprehensive that such initiatives could spell the beginning of the end for the traditional checkout.
However, it insisted the new technology would complement, not replace, its existing ways of shopping and paying.
Matthew Speight, the Co-op director of retail support, said: “It is all about consumer choices and convenience … We recognise there are many communities where customers pop in to their local Co-op and enjoy a friendly chat – it is all part of the service. Whereas for others, perhaps with a train to catch or on a school run, every second can count as consumers seek increased convenience."